...the perfect venue: What is it?
Here are our priorities for the venue:
1. Affordable! Would we like to get married in a historic mansion? Yes! Do we want to pay $10,000 for that pleasure? No! I think $3K is about the top of our budget for venue rental (this is not including food or beverage costs).
2. Not in SF. If we found the perfect place, maybe, but Halloween will be on a Saturday in 2009, and we think the city will be crazy that night. It could be a big pain for people to drive around in Halloween traffic.
3. Space to have the ceremony and reception at the same venue. Mr. T feels strongly about this one--he doesn't want people traipsing all over town and dealing with parking at two places. This one is a hard one; many venues have one indoor space for the reception and one outdoor space for the ceremony, but Halloween weather is unpredictable. Maybe it will be nice out, but maybe it will be freezing, or rainy! So, if we're looking at strictly indoors as an option, this means multiple rooms...otherwise, we'll need to have the chairs set up one way for the ceremony, then shoo everyone out of those chairs and set them up at tables for the reception. That seems too awkward. Finding an affordable place with multiple rooms...hard, but not impossible, I think.
4. Convenient for our guests to get to. Mr. T feels strongly about this one too. We had one venue in a public park near our house on the possible venues list until we drove by it and realized it was way, way up in the hills and would be difficult for some folks to reach. And the park won't let you put up signs, so folks could potentially get lost.
5. Works with the Halloween theme. Since most places won't let you have a free hand at decorating (nothing on the walls, candles only on the tables, etc.), we need some of that Halloween feel to come from the venue itself. Well, we'd like it to, anyway.
These are the major issues. There are many, many variables. Obviously we'd like a choice in who caters our wedding, but sometimes you don't get one (if the venue has an in-house caterer that you have to use). And some venues provide table settings and linens, but others don't, so you'd need to have the caterer provide them, or rent them. I'd like the least amount of DIY necessary, frankly. I'm not going to feel like folding up chairs at midnight on my wedding day in my corset dress, or taking out the trash. All the details are enough to give a girl a migraine. An invaluable resource is Here Comes the Guide--they summarize all of the details for you and have photos, too! Plus, it's searchable by type of venue, location, number of guests, etc. There are similar sites out there, but HCTG is the best one, in my opinion.
One thing I didn't think about when starting to budget for the wedding is "plus-plus"--that means adding gratuity and tax onto not only the venue fee but also the catering fee. This added another (estimated) $3K onto our budget! These are the little hidden costs that come out as you do more research. Luckily I'm a thorough girl, so I'm hoping our budget will hold up because I've added the extras in. So many people lose control over their budgets, stop keeping track, or just plain don't anticipate things; I don't want us to be one of those couples!
In the meantime, Mr. T is starting to regret that he didn't take me up on my offer to get married the last time we were in Vegas. He'll come around. I think.